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Tourist Places To Visit In Sambalpur
Away from the well-beaten tracks of Orissa, an ancient city by the name of Sambalpur lies in the western part of the state and is still very much a part of Orissa’s cultural and religious heritage. The name Sambalpur has been derived from the name of the goddess Samalei who is widely worshipped in this part of the state. The city originated along the banks of river Mahanadi and has ancient roots dating to as far back as the 2nd century AD. Moreover, large populations of the tribal communities of Orissa reside in Sambalpur, which makes it one of the most culturally authentic cities in the state. Spirituality is also a significant part of Sambalpur’s heritage, which is evident in the numerous temples that are dotted around the city. Here is a list of some of the most splendid places to visit in and around Sambalpur that will surely keep you coming back for more.
Around 20 km away from Sambalpur, Hirakud Dam is known to be the longest man-made dam in the country and a major tourist spot across the district. It has been constructed over the river Mahanadi and is more than 50 km long; the construction took place in the 1950s and ever since then it has been a favourite among locals and tourists as an amazing vantage point for sightseeing in the region. The Gandhi and Nehru minarets across the northern façade of the dam offer brilliant views of the surrounding expanse and bird watching opportunities, with numerous temples in the Hirakud region that are worth paying a visit.
Located along the banks of the river Mahanadi, this temple is dedicated to the goddess Samaleswari who is also known as Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Adishakti – an important religious figure in Western Orissa. The temple witnesses heavy footfall during festivals, especially the celebrations of Navaratri and Nuakhai festival.
Leaning Temple of Huma
At a distance of almost 25 km from Sambalpur, the village of Huma boasts an architectural masterpiece that also has an element of mystery attached to its structure. The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which dates back to the 17th century and is situated along the banks of river Mahanadi, is one of the most famous tourist locations here. The top portion of the temple appears to lean to one side, including some of the items present within the temple; the reason behind which is unknown.
It is believed that it could be due to earthquakes or floods in the river; irrespective of the reason that has caused the phenomena, the unique structure attracts a lot of visitors from religious and non-religious backgrounds as well. The festival of Shivratri in particular witnesses the influx of large crowds of devotees who gather here to celebrate and worship Lord Shiva. The resident fishes of the river here, known as Kudo fish, are also considered sacred by the devotees and are constantly offered food by the visitors, without ever facing the danger of being caught.
The Ghanteswari Temple situated around 15 km from Sambalpur has quite a history attached to the role that it has played in earlier times. Much like its name, the temple is covered on all sides in wish-fulfilling bells that are tied by the devotees who visit the temple. Since the temple is situated close to the river Mahanadi with three other streams that meet here, it forms a region where the water current would get quite treacherous and often lead to whirlpools, causing boats in the area to sink.
This is when the bells of the temple would be rung all together to warn the sailors about the danger that lay ahead, which gave the temple the moniker of ‘the Lighthouse without the Light’. The region became safer after the construction of the Hirakud Dam, but the name of the temple stuck around.
Before the establishment of the Hirakud Dam, there was a village in the vicinity that was resettled to another area when the construction of the dam began. The villagers ended up leaving some of their cattle behind, most of which eventually moved on to the hill-top region. After the dam was completed, the area nearby filled up with water giving the hill-top the appearance of an island. Without the meddling of humans, the cattle on this piece of land grew abundant and because the area is covered in dense greenery, they even appear larger than domesticated cows and bulls. These wild species of cattle thriving in a secluded area is a fascinating spot to explore for all those who visit the Hirakud Dam region.
Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary
A popular wildlife sanctuary located on National Highway 6 – around 22 km from Sambalpur – Ushakothi was established in 1962 and covers an area of around 300 sq. km. Another tourist favourite, the Hirakud Dam is situated to the west of the sanctuary and can be visited on the same trip as well. Jeep safaris are the best way to explore the varieties of wildlife here, and there are accommodation facilities available in the sanctuary as well in the form of Forest Rest Houses that are suitable enough for a one or two-night stay.
Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated close to the Hirakud Dam, the Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary boasts immense biodiversity and is home to hundreds of wildlife species that include mammals, birds and reptiles. It covers an area of around 350 sq. km. and unlike a lot of other sanctuaries, the sighting of the wildlife residing here is relatively more common. The Hirakud reservoir covers the north and east sides of the sanctuary and supports extensive aquatic biodiversity as well.